please needle me

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i don’t talk about my needles very much—and no one is asking, either, so i don’t feel a need to expound on the topic all that often.
there are so many other bloggers who regularly write great needle reports with all the details one could want. wendy, grumperina, and aija have all done amazing posts about needles—the quality, weight, length, pointiness—oops; this is starting to sound like needle porn already.

the truth is, i have knit on many different types of needles, and i don’t have one particular favorite. for me, the perfect needle is the one that does a certain job really well. that could be a plastic toy needle if it’s all i have at hand.

i learned to knit on susan bates-type aluminum and plastic needles because that’s what we had, and they worked just fine, though the aluminum never felt great in my hands. i have quite a collection of the beloved short ones from childhood and from thrift stores (i love the plastic ones in all colors). even some i found in france. and then i have a veritable museum of long aluminum ones on which i knit many sweaters through my teens and 20s.

i didn’t even see a wooden needle til the 80s; i think my first siting were those beautiful brittany sculptures that double as a desk accessory! i have a pair or two, but i find them awkward to knit with.

i discovered addi turbos first at a little 10-cent store on court street in brooklyn some time around 1988. they were $7.50, which was just an outrageous sum at the time, but i desperately needed a size 6, so i bought them. the next morning i was at the door when they opened and bought the only other 3 pair they had, thus dessimating my grocery budget for that week (i had a $350 floorthrough apartment too, but those days are gone forever). but these addi’s are still in my stable and going strong.

i love addi’s for most wool knitting—yarn just glides over the surface and i can zip right along. the more slippery the better, and i even love those blunt tips; i hate when needles snag in between the plies of the wool. these generally are my needles of choice; i own a LARGE number of pairs, and mulitples of most sizes (the WIPS, you see).

(addi[cts] note: check out jeff wonderland—just sayin’.)
my greatest pleasure was this week when my friend debbie discovered addis herself—let’s just say that her response was worthy of a booth at the back of an “adult” bookshop.

for socks, i prefer my inox gray metal needles above all others, though i sometimes use wood ones to take advantage of that .25mm difference in diameter that they offer. again, the more slippery the better.

once i started seriously lace knitting, and using finer yarns with different fibers (don’t ask when—i honestly can’t remember, but it was before 1991), i realized that i was working too hard to keep the stitches on my addis.
i cast about looking for a new solution. wood circulars were a rare commodity then, but somehow i stumbled across susanne’s ebony needles, and a new love blossomed in my life. i bought one pair (they were like $12, a SERIOUS investment at the time) of size 7s. i loved them so much that i tailored all my shawl knitting to the size 7 needles.

then this year, it occurred to me that i might be able to treat myself to some more sizes—you know, as a reinvestment into my pattern business. they don’t come in a full range of sizes, but i got what they had under size 7. once these needles are broken in, they become more and more burnished as they are used, and they are lovely.
i also checked out the rosewoods while i was at it, having never owned a pair, and being curious because some people really love rosewood. and, i wanted some in a lighter wood (my eyesight fails me sometimes now).

well, that experiment wasn’t such a success. where the ebony needles have a beautiful, tight grain that never snags (in my experience), the rosewoods were frought with quality issues and i had to send several pairs back.

which brings me to my point (AH! she has a point here . . .). since i was returning some, and thus had a credit, and since the vendor also sells the much-touted, but normally-out-of-my-price-range colonial rosewood circulars, i took the plunge and asked for those as a replacement. and today, they arrived!

i got the size 6s in 24 and 32 inch lengths, since i now have cashmere laceweight to knit up and that has been my preferred size needle for that yarn. indeed, they are smooth and attractive, with nicely tapered tips, and a good join (more porn, but you like that i think). i’m going to try them soon, but not today.

i know, big anticlimax, right? but such is porn—it has to have buildup and letdown, or the real climax just won’t be fulfilling . . .

i’m not trying out THOSE today because these also arrived in the same mail

hand-forged needles from CELTIC SWAN. you might remembert that i mentioned i was trading the mermaid socks

for some needles? i know some of you were concerned about the trade-off there, but now you can see what the deal was—pretty nice, eh? i’m gonna try these out later tonight or tomorrow and let you know, but wendy says she loves hers, and i trust her opinion (she got the silver; these are the brass). they feel a bit heavy, but not as heavy as the dreaded knitpicks ones, and the grooves should help counter the heaviness by keeping the stitches on.

today i feel—luckily and happily—needled to distraction.

14 thoughts on “please needle me

  1. Anne,

    Just love your posts. Whether you’ve knitted some exotic shawl or you’re talking about needles. After all, if the pins aren’t right it takes away the pleasure!

  2. Interesting needles. I read Wendy’s post about hers, and was intrigued. I have a few pairs of regular metal double points, and don’t like them, the stitches fall off at will, and sometimes the needles just fall out completely. Frustrating. So far I haven’t liked any double pointeds as well as my bamboo ones.

    But those grooves would help. They’re reminiscent of my favorite cable needles, which are straight wood with grooves in the center to hold the stitches on.


  3. Wow, I can’t wait to hear what you think about the Celtic Forge needles. I think the swap was a great idea and trade for both involved!

  4. *holding my new addi turbo’s and whispering sweet nothin’s to ’em* my precious,precious needles, how I adore you……*glaring at the nasty one that just snapped on me the other day IN MID PROJECT* ahhh Anne has quite the collection of needles too I see….hmmm, me thinks we should all have a needle stash day from the bloggers!!!! I of course do not have a huge collection..YET!!

  5. Now you’ve done it! The two needles I have been lusting for and you have them delivered in one day! I have been tempted to do the sock trade, if she is still in the market you might have pushed me over the edge. And the second you decide that the Colonials are worth the money, please let me know.

  6. Not sure whether I should thank you, LOL. I clicked on Jeff’s link and bought two Addi Turbo’s for what one would cost me at the LYS. And I got the order sent just before the clock ticked over onto the Sabbath. (I don’t transact business on the Sabbath.)

    I have that tad-bit of CTH left from my first two pairs of socks, and three skeins of Nature’s Palette in a compatible weight, and about half an idea of what sort of sock I want to turn them into PLUS I want to try Magic Loop.

    Am hoping that I like the bitty Turbo’s far better than I like my 8. I did the size 8 portion of my Elann Crop Cardi (in Berroco Denim Silk), and it was like knitting on black ice.

    You enabler, you! 🙂

  7. I, too, took the plunge with Colonials after having rather nice experiences with Holz & Stein (rosewood and ebony). A tad heavier than my H & S but the more flexible cable makes up for it!

    Just finished my first item with them and I can report no problems with points, smoothness or join snags. Hope you enjoy them!

  8. I was just checking out those Celtic Forge needles earlier today. If only I liked to knit with DPNs – those are some *lovely* needles! Can’t wait to hear what you think of them.

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